EPA announces strictest vehicle emissions standards ever

Many health and environmental groups welcomed the EPA's announcement.

ByTracy Wholf
December 20, 2021, 3:12 PM

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced aggressive new vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gasses that will impact cars and light trucks from model years 2023-2026.

The new standards will help reduce the impacts of climate change, improve public health and save consumers money at the gas pump, the EPA said.

"We followed the science, we listened to stakeholders, and we are setting robust and rigorous standards that will aggressively reduce the pollution that is harming people and our planet -- and save families money at the same time," said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 24, 2021, file photo, traffic travels along I-395 in Washington, D.C.
In this Nov. 24, 2021, file photo, traffic travels along I-395 in Washington, D.C.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images, FILE

The new EPA standards will require automakers to further reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles and will result in a cumulative 28% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks over the next four years. The EPA estimates that through 2050, the U.S. will avoid more than 3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest guidelines will also increase fleet-wide fuel efficiency standards to an average of 40-miles-per-gallon by 2026. Higher, fuel-efficient cars means drivers can expect to save anywhere from $210 billion to $420 billion on gas through 2050, according to the EPA.

Many health and environmental groups welcomed the EPA's announcement.

"The standards are a holiday gift for all Americans," said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. "They'll save us hard-earned money at the gas pump, deliver healthier air to our communities, and cut climate pollution."

PHOTO: In this undated file photo, the Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters Building is shown in Washington D.C.
In this undated file photo, the Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters Building is shown in Washington D.C.
Getty Images, FILE

The latest standards from the EPA reverses Trump-era policies that relaxed such requirements. The new guidelines are the most ambitious vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gasses ever established for light duty vehicles in the United States.

The EPA believes automakers can comply with these rigorous standards by increasing the number of zero-emissions vehicles brought to market. Based on current projections, zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles will go from 7% market share in 2023 to 17% in 2026.

Two automakers, Ford and GM, are supportive of the new standards and say they will continue to make investments in electric vehicle technology.

But some believe the EPA and the Biden administration needs to do more.

"Before this presidential term ends, the administration must issue long-term standards strong enough to usher in the age of electric vehicles," said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign. "They must close the loopholes and force automakers to actually deliver electric vehicles, rather than just churning out promises to make them. This plan minimizes auto company whining rather than maximizing the fight against global warming."

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